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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 17

Verse 17. He was numbered with us. He was chosen as an apostle by the Lord Jesus, Lu 6:13-16, This does not mean that he was a true Christian, but that he was reckoned among the apostles. Jesus knew that he never loved him. Long before he betrayed him, he declared that he was a devil, Joh 6:70. He knew his whole character when he chose him, Joh 2:25. If it be asked why he chose such a man to be an apostle—why he was made the treasurer of the apostles, and was admitted to the fullest confidence—we may reply, that a most important object was gained in having such a man —a spy—among them. It might be pretended when the apostles bore testimony to the purity of life, of doctrine, and of purpose, of the Lord Jesus, that they were interested and partial friends; that they might be disposed to suppress some of his real sentiments, and represent him in a light more favourable than the truth. Hence the testimony of such a man as Judas, if favourable, must be invaluable. It would be free from the charge of partiality. If Judas knew anything unfavourable to the character of Jesus, he would have communicated it to the sanhedrim. If he knew of any secret plot against the government, or seditious purpose, he had every inducement to declare it. He had every opportunity to know it: he was with him; heard him converse; was a member of his family, and admitted to terms of familiarity. Yet even Judas could not be bought, or bribed, to testify against the moral character of the Saviour. If he had done it, or could have done it, it would have preserved him from the charge of treason; entitled him to the reputation of a public benefactor in discovering secret sedition; and have saved him from the pangs of remorse, and from self-murder. Judas would have done it if he could. But he alleged no such charge; he did not even dare to lisp a word against the pure designs of the Lord Jesus; and his own pangs and death are the highest proof that can be desired of his conviction that the betrayed Redeemer was innocent. Judas would have been just the witness which the Jews desired of the treasonable purposes of Jesus. But that could not be had, even by gold; and they were compelled to suborn other men to testify against the Son of God, Mt 26:60. We may just add here, that the introduction of such a character as that of Judas Iscariot into the number of the apostles, and the use to be made of his testimony, would never have occurred to an impostor. An impostor would have said that they were all the true friends of the Lord Jesus. To have invented such a character as that of Judas, and to make him perform such a part in the plan as the sacred writers do, would have required too much art and cunning, was too refined and subtle a device to have been thought of, unless it had actually occurred.

{e} "he was numbered with us" Lu 6:16

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